Kathmandu, February 13
International human rights bodies have said that mere extension of the terms of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared persons by one year without necessary legal and institutional reforms was likely to prolong the justice process.
Issuing a statement today, Biraj Patnaik. Amnesty International’s South Asia director, said, “The net worth of these two bodies has now been tested by the victims who are deeply dismayed at not having been served truth and justice.”
On February 5, the government extended, for the second time, the terms of TRC and CIEDP by one year. The TRC and CIEDP have fallen short of international standards, both in constitution and operation, despite repeated orders by the SC. Among other flaws, the current legal framework allows for the possibility of amnesties and effective impunity for gross human rights violations amounting to grave crimes under international law, and the broad authority to facilitate reconciliation, including without the informed consent of the victims and their families, Patnaik said.
In addition, a non-consultative, uncoordinated and opaque approach to their work has also created distrust with all major stakeholders, including conflict victims Where the commissions have made efforts to work effectively, they face problems due to a lack of sufficient human and financial resources.
“Families and victims of Nepal’s decade-long civil war have waited far too long for answers, and cynical government attempts such as extending the mandate without broader reform as directed by the highest court is a further slap in the face,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The two commissions have gathered a lot of documentation, but authorities seem more committed to protecting perpetrators than ensuring justice.”
As of February 2018, the TRC has received 60,298 complaints of human rights violations, and the CIEDP has received 3,093 complaints of enforced disappearance. Though they have stated that investigations have been initiated into some cases, not a single case has been recommended for prosecution till date.
“Now a member of the UN Human Rights Council, the international community has high expectations of the government of Nepal,” said Frederick Rawski, Asia Director of the International Commission of Jurists. “It needs to commit to ensure that these institutions function independently and free from political interference.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 14, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.